Telehealth hits 100 million services milestone
Almost two years since telehealth was introduced by the Australian Government as a temporary initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 100 million services have now been delivered across the nation.
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care
Almost two years since telehealth was introduced by the Morrison Government as a temporary initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 100 million services have now been delivered across the nation.
Between 13 March 2020 and 16 March 2022, over 100 million telehealth services were delivered to around 17 million Australians across the country. More than $5 billion in Medicare benefits has been paid, and more than 92,000 medical practitioners have now used telehealth services to support their patients.
Of these services, GPs have provided almost 83 million, specialists almost 11 million, and allied health professionals around 5 million services.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said universal Telehealth for all Australians is the most significant reform to Medicare since it began, improving access and providing more choice to patients and their health professionals to support health care.
“From the moment we introduced COVID-19 telehealth, patients and medical practitioners have enthusiastically taken it up. Telehealth services, delivered by GPs, specialists, nurses, midwives and allied health practitioners, have saved and protected lives during the pandemic,” Minister Hunt said.
“In response to rapid developments in the pandemic, our introduction of telehealth was achieved in record time. This was achieved through close and effective consultation with the sector, which has continued over the past two years as we further refined and improved telehealth and now made is an abiding legacy of covid.”
The Morrison Government continues to consolidate and build upon telehealth as part of strong record and longstanding commitment to strengthen Medicare. The best patient outcomes are achieved with continuity of care. The requirement for patients to have an existing clinical relationship for most GP telehealth services will continue, recognising patients’ preferred GP and practice, and encouraging patients who want to access telehealth to engage with a known provider.
Telehealth services provided by GPs will now also be included in calculating incentive payments to practices. This recognises that telehealth services are now an ongoing and permanent feature of quality primary health care.
Telehealth services continue to have a role in the Government’s responses to ongoing and emerging challenges of COVID-19 and natural disasters, such as the current floods. Patients living in flood-affected areas declared natural disaster areas by states and territories can access GP services by telehealth from any GP, if clinically appropriate.
Medicare funding has also increased from $19 billion when we came to Government and is growing to $33 billion per year over the budget cycle. This is an increase of $14 billion per annum under the Coalition.
Our Government continues to strengthen Medicare, including by making telehealth permanent, allowing easier access to your GP.
The Morrison Government continues to ensure that Australians can access the services, medicines and treatments they need, when and where they need them, no matter where they live.